United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
DENYING AS MOOT “DEFENDANT PATRICK SCRUGGS' MOTION
TO DISMISS COMPLAINT WITH PREJUDICE AND SUPPORTING MEMORANDUM
OF LAW;” AND ORDER GRANTING “DEFENDANT PATRICK
SCRUGGS' RENEWED MOTION TO DISMISS WITH PREJUDICE AND
SUPPORTING MEMORANDUM OF LAW”
BARBER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on “Defendant Patrick
Scruggs' Motion to Dismiss Complaint with Prejudice and
Supporting Memorandum of Law, ” filed by counsel on
June 26, 2019. (Doc. # 6). On September 20, 2019, Mr. Scruggs
filed “Defendant Patrick Scruggs' Renewed Motion to
Dismiss with Prejudice and Supporting Memorandum of
Law.” (Doc. # 18). Plaintiff Darius Vashon Tolbert did
not file a response to either motion. After reviewing the
motions, court file, and the record, the Court finds as
Mr. Scruggs filed a renewed motion to dismiss on September
20, 2019, the Court denies his June 26, 2019, motion as moot.
This Order substantively addresses only the September 20,
2019, motion to dismiss.
Tolbert was criminally prosecuted for stealing Social
Security benefits checks by the United States Attorney's
Office for the Middle District of Florida in the case styled
United States v. Tolbert, No. 8:16-cr-145-T-23EAJ
(M.D. Fla). Defendant Patrick Scruggs served as lead counsel
in the prosecution. Defendant Benjamin Stetschulte
represented Mr. Tolbert in the criminal case.
August 11, 2016, a jury convicted Mr. Tolbert of theft of
government property (more than one thousand dollars) (a
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641) and theft or receipt of
stolen mail matter (a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1708). In
May 2017, Mr. Tolbert was sentenced to fifty-two months
imprisonment. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed Mr. Tolbert's
convictions and sentences, issuing its mandate on May 30,
2018. It appears that Mr. Tolbert engaged in a number of
unsuccessful challenges to his convictions both during and
after his direct appeal.
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a complaint
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing the [plaintiff] is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). “Although Rule 8(a) does not require
‘detailed factual allegations,' it does require
‘more than labels and conclusions'; a
‘formulaic recitation of the cause of action will not
do.'” Young v. Lexington Ins. Co., No.
18-62468, 2018 WL 7572240, at *1 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 6, 2018),
report and recommendation adopted, No. 18-62468-CIV,
2019 WL 1112274 (S.D. Fla. Jan. 9, 2019) (quoting Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)). In order to
survive a motion to dismiss, factual allegations must be
sufficient “to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, review is generally limited
to the four corners of the complaint. Rickman v.
Precisionaire, Inc., 902 F.Supp. 232, 233 (M.D. Fla.
1995). Furthermore, when reviewing a complaint for facial
sufficiency, a court “must accept [a] [p]laintiff's
well pleaded facts as true, and construe the [c]omplaint in
the light most favorable to the [p]laintiff. Id.
(citing Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236
Tolbert is proceeding pro se, the Court more
liberally construes the pleadings. Alba v. Montford,
517 F.3d 1249, 1252 (11th Cir. 2018). However, a pro
se plaintiff must still conform with procedural rules
and the Court does not have “license to act as de
facto counsel” on behalf of a pro se
plaintiff. United States v. Padgett, 917 F.3d 1312,
1317 (11th Cir. 2019). While the Court typically provides a
pro se plaintiff with at least one opportunity to
amend his complaint where the issues presented are procedural
or drafting errors, the Court may dismiss a pro se
plaintiff's claim with prejudice “where a more
carefully drafted complaint could not state a claim and is,
therefore, futile.” Carter v. HSBC Mortg. Servs.,
Inc., 622 Fed.Appx. 783, 786 (11th Cir. 2015); see
In re Kachkar, 769 Fed.Appx. 673, 682 (11th Cir. 2019).
Court initially notes that the allegations of Mr.
Tolbert's complaint are largely incoherent but appear to
challenge his convictions and sentences in various ways. Mr.
Tolbert sets forth a textbook example of a shotgun pleading
where (1) it is unclear what act or omission each Defendant
is alleged to have committed and (2) he includes several
claims for relief within each numbered count. See Weiland
v. Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, 792
F.3d 1313, 1322-23 (11th Cir. 2015); Jackson v. Bank of
America, N.A., 898 F.3d 1348, 1356-57 (11th Cir. 2018).
time, the Court focuses only on claims against Mr. Scruggs.
The Court has thoroughly reviewed the complaint and the